Helene

ABT Fall Season Mixed Rep Performances

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I thought the casting of Bach Partita made a big difference in how I felt about the ballet. I thought the first cast, with Murphy, Gomes, Abrera ... was fantastic, and I couldn't wait to see the work again. Last night I saw the second cast with Herrera, Boylston, Part, Gorak..., and somehow the ballet looked a lot more boring. Maybe the fact that Twyla was in the house watching gave the first cast extra energy last Friday. I thought Part was trying to "emote" too much, and Herrera did not dance with the kind of abandon I saw from Murphy.

I've seen Clear many times at ABT, and I think I also saw it again when Corella Ballet brought it to NYC during a tour. (I miss Angel!) Even though there are lots of silly gestures in it from the guys pounding their chests and stomachs, I still always enjoy the ballet. Kent did look great, and Gomes was magnetic. Calvin Royal was a standout. I hope we see a lot more of Royal during the Spring season.

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Also went last night. Unlike Abatt, I did not see first cast of the season in BACH PARTITA. Absolutely love the work - it is one to be savoured many times over, if it would be possible to see it many nights running. I was most impressed by the beautiful positions and timing of Isabella Boylston BUT the stand-out couple was, in fact, one of the demi-solo pairings: Sarah Lane & Sean Stewart! I agree with Abatt on Part's over-emoting, just as she seems to do in all neo-classical ballets, such as APOLLO.

CLEAR was a bore, although the final adagio-pdd by Kent and Gomes is lovely.

I very much like THE TEMPEST. A gorgeous deluxe production that tells its story clearly...well, I read the notes during intermission, which further helped. smile.png Bravo, Ratmansky! I've long been a fan of Sibelius' score, especially the segments for Miranda and Fernando (the young lovers) and the catchy Spanish-infused tune for Ariel. I've loved the evening's Ariel, Gabe Stone Shayer, since his days in the Bolshoi school, through his graduation performance last year with the JKO School/ABT II. He is extraordinary. That said, I'm sorry to have missed the original Ariel, Simkin. Cory Stearns as Prospero delivered more passion & emotion than I think I've ever seen from this ABT principal - evah! Yuriko Kajiya's pliancy and liquidy movements are spectacular; time to make her a principal, please! The evening's greatest kudos, though, are reserved for Jared Matthews, who was featured in all three ballets of the night...The Jared Matthews Triple Header! His gorgeous and high entrechats in THE TEMPEST alone were worth the price of admission.

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I know Jared has a lot of enthusiastic fans who always praise him, and he is praiseworthy, but he often gets solo spinning parts, which are central to his section of the dance, and I think he is not the best spinner. The Spring brochure shows him as "Puck", and I can't imagine him in that role. (Besides, I really want to see Herman in that role).

I agree with comments regarding how good Gabe Stone Shayer, Jose Sebastian, and Tom Forster were in "Clear." I was surprised by Forster, since I really did not think he had any presence in the rehearsal for "Sylphides".

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Yuriko Kajiya's pliancy and liquidy movements are spectacular; time to make her a principal, please! The evening's greatest kudos, though, are reserved for Jared Matthews, who was featured in all three ballets of the night...The Jared Matthews Triple Header! His gorgeous and high entrechats in THE TEMPEST alone were worth the price of admission.

Natalia, I haven't yet seen this season, but I agree with you on both dancers. They have made major strides in the last few seasons. It would also be lovely if they are promoted together as they have been a couple for years.

Can't wait to see some performances this weekend, the great divergence of opinions on the works on offer is actually building my anticipation...

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I was at last night's performance and it was fantastic.

Les Sylphides - I am so glad this was revived. One of my all-time favorite ballets. Hee Seo was lovely; adagio/lyrical dancing is definitely her forte, but she wasn't luxurious enough in Prelude. I wanted her to take a deep breath and let that breath move through her torso, port de bras and her head. Sarah Lane was gorgeous; perfect port de bras, light-airy jumps, but her penchees could have been lower and deeper. Isabella Boylston did a very nice job; I didn't see too many broken wrists that others have talked about here. Most of her arm placements were what they should have been for Fokine. But, the wonder of the ballet was Joseph Gorak. He had some nervous energy to start, but settled in. He is a young David Hallberg - in physique and technique and potential. He had the right command here and was a secure, confident, strong partner; he was very engaged with Boylston during their pas. He dances like a seasoned soloist (despite his nervousness at first). And, I must acknowledge the corps who were obviously very well-rehearsed. Their port de bras were perfectly matched and they had the right Fokine style. A beautiful performance.
The Moor's Pavane - first time I've seen this. It's so affecting and emotionally wrenching. Roman Zhurbin was a potent Moor; here is a corps dancer among 3 principals and he held the stage. His eyes pierced through the audience every time he looked forward. Hee Seo was perfect as the Moor's Wife - innocent and delicate. Cory Stearns really excels in the dramatic ballets; he and Zhurbin were a force together. Veronika Part was delicious as the Friend's scheming Wife.
Gong - I loved this! Great to see so many principals and soloists in one piece. The 2 pas de deux's in silence were almost startling. Gillian Murphy, James Whiteside (he has taken everything on so well) and Misty Copeland really stood out for me. Really liked the crazy, colorful costumes (except the fact that Xiomara Reyes' costume was the same color as the backdrop so she practically disappeared) and the ending (very Balanchine).
A nice surprise announcement after the final ballet's (Gong) curtain calls - Cory Stearns came out onstage dressed in street clothes with a microphone to ask the audience to please donate to Dancer's Responding to Aids (dancers with buckets were in the lobby to take donations). He gave a great, short speech for a often-forgotten cause nowadays.

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I attended Thursday evening's performance. I thought Semionova and Stearns were wonderful in T&V. Semionova was radiant and performed the difficult choreography with ease and grace. Cory was a gallant partner, and executed his solo with panache. (I like his hair slicked back. It makes him look more sophisticated.) There was one minor problem I saw in the partnering, where he arrived a tad late to support Semionova, causing her to come off pointe too soon. NYCB has been assigning the T&V role to people I regard as soubrette (Peck, M. Fairchild, Bouder). It was refreshing to see a tall, regal Ballerina in the role.

Kent and Cote were fantastic in Month. I was not looking forward to this revival, because I found Kent's performance disappointing during the Met season. I thought that she was tracing the steps instead of performing them full out. (I much preferred Hee Seo, but she is not doing the role during this Fall Koch engagement.) Kent surprised me in a good way. First, I thought she added a lot more to the acting of the role than when she first did the role last spring. I also thought her dancing was more robust last night than in the spring. Cote was fantastic. His partnering was effortless, he had dramatic insight, and he executed his solo work very well. Gemma Bond was perfection.

Re Piano Concerto 1, Murphy and Royal danced with brio. In fact, I think I prefer Murphy over Vishneva in this. I guess it's not a fair comparison, but I found corps members Brandt and Shayer paled in comparison to the dynamic duo of Osipova and Vasiliev who originated these roles.

There were many empty seats last night, and the fourth ring only had a handful of peoplle.

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I'm delighted to read that A Month in the Country is worth revisiting. I hadn't been planning to see it again until I learned that Cote would be dancing (this being the best rationale there is for guest artists!), but will do so on Sunday. However... many empty seats? It's a disgrace that ABT doesn't make these available on TDF; neither do they offer the $29 tickets on the far sides of the orch, second, and third rings that NYCB does. For shame. Vergogna!

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I went last night as well. It was my second time seeing T&V with Semionova and Stearns. I thought it was better than the first time and they both seemed more comfortable. She executed all of the difficult and fast choreography very well. Her feet are incredibly strong and articulate. The first time I saw this last week, Stearns looked like he was very unhappy to be dancing, but he definitely seemed to have a bit more energy and enjoyment last night. However, I felt like he was running out of steam by about half way through.

I was not looking forward to seeing A Month in the Country, as I did not like it last spring and also because I haven't enjoyed Julie Kent so much as of late. And unfortunately, my reservations were well-founded. I can't totally explain what it is about this piece that I don't like. I very much like other Ashton works like The Dream and Cinderella. And I found Julie Kent to be very awkward. I felt like she was overacting to make up for her lack of technical capacity. However, I did think Cote was great! While I am not a fan of the abundance of guest artists in ABT's spring season, I would love to see Cote in a full-length principle role.

I really enjoyed Piano Concerto No. 1 - I am a fan of the Shoshtakovich Trilogy and this piece in particular. I think it shows what Ratmansky is best at. I thought that Gillian Murphy was wonderful, and while Skylar Brandt didn't quite match Murphy's confidence or precision, she was also very strong and incredibly capable. I actually think they're very similar dancers. I thought Calvin Royal was fantastic both in his solo work and in partnering Murphy. Gabe Stone Shayer seemed the least comfortable, but he also looked like he was enjoying the performance immensely, which was great to see. He is definitely a wonderful dancer and it seems he is being given opportunities to grow so... fingers crossed!

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I know Jared has a lot of enthusiastic fans who always praise him, and he is praiseworthy, but he often gets solo spinning parts, which are central to his section of the dance, and I think he is not the best spinner. The Spring brochure shows him as "Puck", and I can't imagine him in that role. (Besides, I really want to see Herman in that role).

I agree with comments regarding how good Gabe Stone Shayer, Jose Sebastian, and Tom Forster were in "Clear." I was surprised by Forster, since I really did not think he had any presence in the rehearsal for "Sylphides".

I think that it's a bit harsh to make firm or hard judgements on a dancers performance which are based soley on the rehearsal. Rehearsals are for the benefit of the dancers not the audience.

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I know Jared has a lot of enthusiastic fans who always praise him, and he is praiseworthy, but he often gets solo spinning parts, which are central to his section of the dance, and I think he is not the best spinner. The Spring brochure shows him as "Puck", and I can't imagine him in that role. (Besides, I really want to see Herman in that role).

I agree with comments regarding how good Gabe Stone Shayer, Jose Sebastian, and Tom Forster were in "Clear." I was surprised by Forster, since I really did not think he had any presence in the rehearsal for "Sylphides".

I think that it's a bit harsh to make firm or hard judgements on a dancers performance which are based soley on the rehearsal. Rehearsals are for the benefit of the dancers not the audience.

What you say is correct. However, I didn't make a firm or hard judgment; I merely reported my observations and thoughts. I also commented because I thought the nature of the choreography might contribute to the issue.

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Managed to get up for four performances--very glad I did, overall very substantive programs, very well danced. I don't have a lot to add to what has been said above, but will say I find The Tempest lingers in the mind. It's not unproblematic, but I think it has real theatrical poetry. All of the principals in the roles created on them were very fine, and I appreciated Gomez' ability to communicate real anger. As wonderful as Simkin is, beginning with the narrowly arced grand jetes of his opening with their little pause at the very height of the arc, I felt special appreciation for Cornejo who, in the ballet's final scene, brings a kind of emotional power, that the ballet did not entirely prepare one for. Otherwise I shared some of the frustration expressed by others above that one would cast Cornejo as Caliban and not give Caliban a fuller, richer role. The Tempest was my first real look at Joseph Gorak and I agree with others that he looks wonderful--not just beautifully classical but genuinely graceful. Lane, too, at her best.

Other works I saw while in NY: I thought Clear was dreadful and not particularly well or excitingly danced--certainly not well enough to make it into any kind of guilty pleasure--with one exception, Thomas Forster. I would be very interested in seeing more of him. I saw Theme and Variations with Semionova and Stearns. She had moments of radiance, but both Stearns and she looked very much as if they were thinking their way through the ballet. I always enjoy the way the ABT ensemble performs in this ballet and this evening was no exception. However, I enjoyed both Semionova and Stearns very much in other works I saw over the weekend. She, in Bach Partita--in fact, I think that was my favorite Semionova performance ever: she seemed free, playful, sensuous, responsive or just alive on stage in a way I hadn't experienced before. Stearns impressed me very much (and kind of unexpectedly) in A Month in the Country. Here, too, I felt as if I was seeing him come alive as a dancer in a way I hadn't really before. Both casts of the Ashton had some flaws and some wonderful qualities (Kent/Cote/Bond & Reyes/Stearns/Lane) but I thought that in both performances the ballet came through as beautiful and moving and really in all of its extraordinary musicality, characterizations, dramatic clarity and nuances, as well as the richness of the pas de deux. I will mention too Simkin's Kolya--which I don't think could possibly be bettered. I saw Wayne Sleep who originated the role and unless my memory betrays me I don't think he was better. Gemma Bond was very well received as Vera and I think deservedly. Cote seemed to me a very fine actor. I do think ABT's Ashton here and in the Dream sometimes gets too broad and both Barbee and Zhurbin as Natalya's husband never rose above stock types--which I think Alexander Grant did. Reyes and Stearns didn't quite fill out the imagery of their major pas de deux, indeed neither Reyes nor Kent hit all the choreographic notes one might--but they gave effective, affecting performances. When ABT can stage this kind of repertory with consistency across different casts (even if this or that can be criticized)--well, in my eyes, that confirms the company's importance.

Other works I saw? Loved Bach Partita which I had never seen--am astonished that ABT has not tried to revive this before; Murphy was especially fabulous along with Semionova. Murphy is dancing with an extraordinary simplicity and easy command -- even the most difficult of choreography. I especially admire the freedom of her upper body. Enjoyed Gong as an intriguing novelty and wouldn't mind seeing it again. Here too Murphy's silken ease and quiet intelligence was a highlight. (She was replacing Teuscher.) In these works, I got my first look at Whiteside. In this 20th-century repertory I thought he did well.

I tend to admire Moor's Pavane more than I like it, and am quite sure I would enjoy it more with Limon/modern dancers, but I did appreciate watching Part put rather her stamp on the role of the Friend's wife. I saw the Ratmansky Shostakovich Piano Concerto no. 1 three times and it very much held up as a work at once festive and melancholy, ironic and touching. I'm not sure I didn't like the "second" cast (Shevchenko, Reyes w. Tamm and Simkin) better than the Murphy/Brand/Royal/Shayer cast. At least Saturday afternoon's performance had a rather fabulous energy about it. Though I should say I was also sitting considerably closer for that performance.

Finally, another word for Simkin at all the performances I saw: the creation of Ariel in The Tempest showed him not just as the airy elfin show-off of a dancer, but as able to become a strange, otherworldly being; his Kolya I have already remarked--he seemed remarkably inside the world of the ballet and its music; in the Vasiliev-originated role in the Ratmansky he was likewise excellent. As one might expect his dancing was first-rate, but he also seemed again inside the music/tone of the ballet. nothing show-offy (a common criticism) in his manner. Rather he belonged to the equivocal community that Ratmansky creates even as his dancing was actually quite spectacular. His dancing was a highlight of my visit, along with Stearns unexpected -- to me -- speed and grace as Beliaev, his energy, intensity even in all the role's different moods.

But the real highlight to me was, despite Clear, a chance to see ABT in multiple and varied repertory programs of genuinely high quality -- masterpieces alongside somewhat lesser-known neo-classic experiments alongside new work -- and whatever my criticisms of this or that performance, consistently well danced, and even very well danced. Also, love that they are dancing at the State Theater.

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Thank you so much, Drew: it's always great to read what people who do NYC ballet visits think of companies and see with fresh eyes.

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I went to the Sat matinee and the Sunday matinee. Part's performance in Sylphides was one for the ages. Absolutely gorgeous. This was an excellent two weeks of rep.

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I went to the Sunday matinee and also found Part's performance in Sylphides exquisite. The surprise for me was the ease with which Semionova and Stearns seemed to dance together, as if they were truly in tune with each other and enjoyed dancing together. They could make a nice partnership in the future, perhaps bringing out the best in each other and rising to the high expectations we have of both of them. Stearns has the most perfectly proportioned body for classical ballet, as well as a gorgeous line and a handsome face. I'm sorry I missed him in Month in the Country, given Drew's comments above.

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I went to the Sunday matinee and also found Part's performance in Sylphides exquisite. The surprise for me was the ease with which Semionova and Stearns seemed to dance together, as if they were truly in tune with each other and enjoyed dancing together. They could make a nice partnership in the future, perhaps bringing out the best in each other and rising to the high expectations we have of both of them. Stearns has the most perfectly proportioned body for classical ballet, as well as a gorgeous line and a handsome face. I'm sorry I missed him in Month in the Country, given Drew's comments above.

He did seem to enjoy dancing with semionova and did quite well with her. I thought she was lovely. I assumed he, however was just happy not to be doing his solo, given the complete hash he made of it. It was perhaps the worst thing I've ever seen an ABT performer do, on any level.

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I went to the Sunday matinee and also found Part's performance in Sylphides exquisite. The surprise for me was the ease with which Semionova and Stearns seemed to dance together, as if they were truly in tune with each other and enjoyed dancing together. They could make a nice partnership in the future, perhaps bringing out the best in each other and rising to the high expectations we have of both of them. Stearns has the most perfectly proportioned body for classical ballet, as well as a gorgeous line and a handsome face. I'm sorry I missed him in Month in the Country, given Drew's comments above.

He did seem to enjoy dancing with semionova and did quite well with her. I thought she was lovely. I assumed he, however was just happy not to be doing his solo, given the complete hash he made of it. It was perhaps the worst thing I've ever seen an ABT performer do, on any level.

Oh, my, I picked up the stumble in the beginning, but then I thought he recovered in both his dancing and his composure. I wish we had instant replay because I'm not sure what you found so awful.

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Aurora may be referring to that really awful landing Cory had in Sylphides, where he spent an inordinate amount of time trying to adjust the position of his foot to avoid falling over.

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Aurora may be referring to that really awful landing Cory had in Sylphides, where he spent an inordinate amount of time trying to adjust the position of his foot to avoid falling over.

Thank you, abatt, but does that landing make the entire variation "complete hash"? My ballet teacher says that things go wrong all the time in ballet, and that dancers have to learn to "save" those moments. If we excoriate dancers for every fall, misstep, or poor landing, then we're in danger of creating an atmosphere of unforgiving criticism. Of course we want perfection, but perfection in ballet is elusive. I think we would do better to "savor" the good moments.

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Aurora may be referring to that really awful landing Cory had in Sylphides, where he spent an inordinate amount of time trying to adjust the position of his foot to avoid falling over.

Thank you, abatt, but does that landing make the entire variation "complete hash"? My ballet teacher says that things go wrong all the time in ballet, and that dancers have to learn to "save" those moments. If we excoriate dancers for every fall, misstep, or poor landing, then we're in danger of creating an atmosphere of unforgiving criticism. Of course we want perfection, but perfection in ballet is elusive. I think we would do better to "savor" the good moments.

That was the main disaster of that variation. But that is a very "simple" (not to be confused with easy) variation meant to illustrate poetry. I saw little elegance or poetry in it. Rather, desperate clutching and grasping to not fall over, combined with mediocre lines and no musicality or poetry.

On the other hand I thought he was excellent in the moor's pavane on saturday.

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Sat., Nov. 2 evening:

I saw Gomes/Simkin in the Tempest. While I enjoyed everyone's dancing, especially Lane and Gorak, The Tempest just seemed a sort of mess. I did not think that the score cried out to be choreographed.

Semionova was disappointing in Theme and Variations. She is beautiful, but her dancing lacks spark. The whole performance lacked clarity and did not seem crisp enough. Overall, I enjoyed Clear more than the Tempest and T&V.

Sunday matinee, November 10: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good: A Month in the Country

The Bad: Seminova in Sylphides

The Ugly: Ormsby Wilkins' conducting of Les Sylphides

I love Les Sylphides. I liked Britten's arrangement of the Chopin, but found Wilkins' conducting to metronomic. There was little rubato, and little motion within each phrase. It was all so painfully even that it almost didn't sound like Chopin. I don't expect an orchestra to have the flexibility of a pianist, but there are recordings that demonstrate that beautiful performances by an orchestra are possible. That said, the orchestra played well, intonation and tone-wise. I just didn't like the conducting.

The core danced nicely in Les Sylphides, but I was disappointed in the principals with the exception of Veronika Part. who filled every phrase to the utmost. Her dancing was beautiful. Seminova gave an uninspired performance once again. Her dancing lacked impetus. She often danced behind the beat, and she seemed to perform the repeated relevés in her solo whenever she felt like it, not when the music required. They were nicely done, but so unmusical. She is obviously a gifted dancer, but because of her lack of musicality and spark, she does not strike me as a great dancer.

Interestingly, the moment Julie Kent began to dance in A Month in the Country, she displayed the spark and impetus that Seminova lacked. I thought that this was some of the best dancing I've seen from Kent in a while. A Month in the Country was definitely the highlight of the afternoon. Bond, Coté and Simkin were all wonderful, and Simkin was truly believable as a boy. Musically, I enjoyed A Month in the Country, which is also set to Chopin, more than Les Sylphides. I attribute my enjoyment to the playing of the piano soloist, Emily Wong. Her role was so great that Wilkins had no choice but to follow her lead.

I enjoyed Herrera and Whiteside in Theme and Varations much more than Seminova and Stearns. Their dancing was stronger and clearer.

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This ABT Fall season and the one last year at City Center have been superior to the seasons that they previously presented. They are no longer wasting money and time on garbage new commissions that will end up in the trash bin as soon as the curtain comes down (Citizen comes readily to mind, although there have been many other commissioned duds over the years that will never, thankfully, see the light of day again). Tempest is a substantive work that while not perfect, is not an insult to the intelligence of the audience. Remember one City Center season when ABT took the cheapo route and only presented works that didn't require an orchestra! This season was loaded with masterworks, and even the mediocre works (Clear) were not disasters.

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This ABT Fall season and the one last year at City Center have been superior to the seasons that they previously presented. They are no longer wasting money and time on garbage new commissions that will end up in the trash bin as soon as the curtain comes down (Citizen comes readily to mind, although there have been many other commissioned duds over the years that will never, thankfully, see the light of day again). Tempest is a substantive work that while not perfect, is not an insult to the intelligence of the audience. Remember one City Center season when ABT took the cheapo route and only presented works that didn't require an orchestra! This season was loaded with masterworks, and even the mediocre works (Clear) were not disasters.

I agree abatt that their fall season this year was outstanding (even though I did not like Tempest). I wish I had seen Part in Sylphides since everyone has raved about her performance (even Macauley). I think most everyone danced superbly in the 2 shows I saw. I believe many of us have discussed this before, but it would suit the dancers well (and many in the audience) if ABT did more rep during the Met season. It's hard to grow if you spend most of your 8 weeks waving a flower back-and-forth (so to speak). I actually loved Citizen from a few fall seasons back; guess I'm in the minority. Would be great if they could also extend their fall season, but that might conflict with Nutcracker rehearsals.

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